Last updated: February 14, 2013 - 11:27pm
Patents, for all their flaws, are a widely used proxy for innovation. And a new study from the Brookings Institution shows just how clustered patent-related innovation is in America.
That cities are hot beds of creativity of all kinds well known. But the Brookings research details just how concentrated an activity associated with scientific and technological innovation — patent filings — really is. There are more than 370 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. But the people living in just 20 metro areas — home to 34 percent of the population — generate 63 percent of the nation’s patents. In the five most patent-intensive metro areas, the study found, the average resident is 2.4 times more likely to produce a patented innovation than the average American. Those five metro areas with the most patent filings per million people, from 2007 to 2011, were: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA); Burlington-South Burlington (VT); Rochester (MN); Corvallis (OR); and Boulder (CO). It’s easy to see why silicon Valley is on the list, but the others? The common thread among three of the cities, Burlington, Rochester and Boulder, is universities and IBM. Corvallis is also a university town, with a Hewlett-Packard facility.
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